Jammu and Kashmir government removed Parvez Ahmad as Chairman and Managing Director of J&K Bank and appointed R. K. Chibber as the interim chairman with immediate effect. Within minutes of Ahmad’s departure, state vigilance department proceeded to raid the bank’s corporate headquarters at MA Road in Srinagar.
Ahmad, who was appointed as the chairman by PDP-BJP government in October 2016 was removed five months ahead of the completion of his term.
— Daily Excelsior (@DailyExcelsior1) June 8, 2019
Chibber previously served as the chairman of Grameen Bank and was one of the executive presidents of J&K bank before being appointed as the first non-Kashmiri chairman.
Governor of J&K Removes Parvez Ahmed as Chairman of J&K Bank after recent PO Examination results which favoured Kashmir Candidates.
Appoints RK Chibber as interim Chairman. 1st Non-Kashmiri heading J&K Bank in decades pic.twitter.com/vnGej0IC1I
— Ashish (@ashishtikooo) June 8, 2019
Since the raid, speculations are rife about the internal functioning and future of the bank.
As per reports, the government order, which was was signed by the additional secretary read, “Parvez Ahmad, chairman cum Managing Director shall cease to be Director on the Board of Directors of the bank and consequently be no longer the chairman cum managing director of the bank.”
The vigilance officials are looking out for records of nearly 1,200 appointments allegedly made as political recommendations by Ahmad’s under the previous state government. Earlier, in October 2018, J&K Governor Satyapal Malik had accused the bank of appointing employees on political recommendations. The issue was brushed under the carpet but a month later, State Accountability Commission headed by Malik had decided to treat the bank as Public Sector Undertaking.
The decision was, however, revoked after political outrage. The governor had come out to clarify that J&K Bank was registered as a government company under the Companies Act. Therefore, the bank would continue to be regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
J&K bank was incorporated on October 1, 1938, as the first bank in the country to emerge as a state-owned bank.
Former chairman Haseeb Drabu, who joined Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP in 2014, went on to serve as the finance minister in the last government.
This year about 1,44,800 candidates appeared for the bank’s online recruitment test for the posts of 250 probationary officers conducted between April 22 and 26.
According to reports, the bank was accused of favouring the students of Kashmir region by applying different selection criteria for different districts of Jammu and Kashmir region. While the cut-off marks for Jammu was 63, for Srinagar it was 42. For Samba and Kathua it was 56, for Udhampur it was 57. Whereas for Pulwama, Baramulla, and Rajouri it was 40. However, for Kupwara, Anantnag, Bandipora, and Kulgam it was 41.
In May, a group of candidates had protested against the alleged discrimination with Jammu region in the selection process. Their outrage found backing in political parties including the Congress and the BJP that openly supported their protest and demands. As the voices grew louder, and governor Malik intervened in the matter, the bank was forced to alter the cut-off marks to a uniform number of 40 across all districts of the state.
Ahmad, the then chairman later announced on Twitter that all aspirants with 40 plus marks would be eligible to sit for the mains of the PO exam. He added, “All those candidates having an assessment score of 40 and above shall be eligible to write the mains. Good luck aspirants. Stay tuned for a rescheduled date after arranging logistics.”
However, after the result for the PO conducted by Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS), Mumbai was declared, some students in Jammu also protested against the results. These protests continued for a few days. The bank, however, denied all allegations and dismissed the protests by terming their recruitment process ‘transparent’.
That bank later clarified its stand through an advertisement in local dailies, which read “Post declaration of the results of the bank’s online recruitment test for the preliminary examination conducted by Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS), Mumbai for the selection of probationary officers in the bank, it has come to the notice of the bank that there is a parochial attempt by some vested interests to misguide the applicants with baseless misinformation on the selection process being skewed to a particular district on the basis of merit cut off.”